School crossings, free parking and garden waste could go to plug £35m black hole

Aberdeenshire Council is looking to save millions over the next year - meaning cuts to the services it provides.

School crossings, free parking and garden waste could go to plug Aberdeenshire Council’s £35m budget black hole Getty Images

School crossing patrollers could be axed, free parking removed and garden waste collections halted as Aberdeenshire Council looks to save millions over the next year.

The local authority has revealed a number of possible budget cuts aimed at filling its huge £35.45m financial black hole.

Newly unveiled budget papers have put forward various proposals that could save the local authority £17.3m into 2025.

The savings will be considered by councillors when they meet to set the crucial budget next week.

It comes as council leader Gillian Owen previously said that “tough decisions” needed to be made.

She said everything was on the table to ensure the local authority could cut back on spending.

Aberdeenshire Council will look at removing its school crossing patrol service. This would mean the region’s 14.5 dedicated lollipop staff roles would be cut, saving £436,000.

Moray Council scrapped its school crossing patrollers in 2019 as it struggled with its budget.

Aberdeenshire Council faces a deficit of more than £35m.iStock

Following a review process, six janitor posts are also at risk which would save the local authority £195,000.

Aberdeenshire Council recently agreed to stop providing out-of-school care that will absorb a staffing pressure of £680,000 and save a further £45,000 in admin costs.

But administration support to schools could be reduced by 5% – meaning nine jobs would be lost bringing a saving of £300,000 by 2026.

School catering will also be looked at.

Any school kitchens producing less than 35 meals per day will stop and their meals will be cooked at another school nearby instead.

This is estimated to save around £160,000 by 2026.

Dynamic pricing may also be introduced for school dinners that could save £50,000.

Meanwhile free meals for school staff will be removed, saving £30,000 over the next year.

The local authority will consider cutting down on maintaining its parks along with weed control and pruning that could save £99,000.

This move would have a knock-on effect on jobs, with any vacant roles being axed and a reduction in its summer operative posts.

In turn, this could save up to £600,000.

The council will also look at reducing the amount it pays towards floral displays across the region – a move that could save £110,000.

It currently provides bedding plants to towns and villages across the region for free.

But this could soon come to a halt, with the local authority considering an alternative solution that could save £91,000 by 2026.

A reduction in waste management staff budgets will mean overtime hours will be slashed while any vacant posts will be scrapped saving £76,000.

Meanwhile seasonal garden waste collections will be under review with residents encouraged to take their own waste to their nearest household recycling centre instead.

It is believed this could save the council £753,000.

Scrapping seasonal garden waste collections could save the council more than £750,000.iStock

The council is also considering the removal of free car parking. This means that any free spaces found within pay and display car parks would become subject to charges.

This move would impact Burn Lane in Inverurie, Hanover Street in Fraserburgh, High Street in Turriff and St Mary’s at Banff.

A further blow to motorists would see standard car parking charges increase by up to 30%.

Work scheduled at the region’s harbours will be reduced in a bid to tackle construction inflation.

However, the council will look at increasing harbour dues in order to meet projected levels of income. Measures around the region’s harbours could result in savings of up to £136,000.

The local authority is predicting that production levels and sales from its quarries won’t be as high as in previous years.

A review of its business model will be looked at to find a way around this problem.

However, it will look at reviewing its pricing structures to ensure it can make as much money from its quarries as possible.

The review could see the council save £1,518,000 over the next year.

Aberdeenshire Council’s roads team will focus on more “safety critical” repairs to ensure the region’s road network can keep moving, saving £1m.

Meanwhile, the local authority will cut back on subcontracting and trial alternative materials and repair methods that could save £1,100,000.

AI video-based road inspections could be introduced, saving £250,000 by 2026.

This would see recording equipment installed in vehicles to prevent staff from carrying out manual inspections.

It will review its road maintenance depots and could consider cutting them in a bid to save cash. This move could save the council £100,000 by 2026.

The local authority will press ahead with its snow wardens scheme by encouraging more residents to take responsibility for gritting their local areas. It will carry out a review of its grit bin provision in a bid to save £17,000.

Aberdeenshire Council will close five of its smaller service points across the region, including those in Turriff, Ellon, Banff, Huntly and Stonehaven.

Its larger customer points in Peterhead, Fraserburgh and Inverurie will stay.

This move will see five staff posts cut at a saving of £182,000.

However, the local authority will continue to lease out parts of its Woodhill House headquarters in Aberdeen.

It is hoped this would save the council just over £1m over the next two years.

The building was recently been renovated in order to welcome NHS and Police Scotland staff.

A review of its IT staff will see a reduction in seven jobs and moving towards a more webchat-based service. The cut will save £400,000.

Nine roles across the council’s Live Life Aberdeenshire leisure services will save £300,000.

And staff cover at its household recycling centres at weekends will also be looked at that could save £26,000.

However, this change is not expected to have an impact on services at the sites. Four vacant customer services posts will be axed, saving £132,000.

Other unfilled jobs will also be cut including a planning officer (£57,000), trading standards enforcement officer (£44,000) and a historic environment role (£54,000).

The crunch budget meeting will take place on Thursday next week.

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